Figures in flame red saris floating by, mahouts with tangerine turbans tending to their elephants, men in white robes riding camels through sun-scorched desert. The moments depicted in Ann Shrager’s oil paintings immediately evoke a faraway land, one where rich colour sings out against luminous lilac skies, iridescent waters beckon and people you long to know go about their day without so much as a backward glance.
Much of Ann’s work is based on her travels over the past 25 years. Having visited places like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Morocco and Egypt, the Richmond-based artist and New English Art Club member captures exactly what she loves most about these destinations: the people, the space, the light and the vivid hues.
When these elements converge, Ann is at her most inspired. Recalling what draws her back to India, she says: “The people come out either early in the morning or before sunset, when it’s cool and there’s this wonderful pale light. Seeing all these beautiful colours and people is so exciting.”
“I would like to spend all my time there,” she adds. “I would just be sat with my mouth open, being thrilled.”
One of Ann’s first sources of inspiration was the English coast, which she visited during childhood holidays. Drawn to the space, sounds and smells, she would paint her family on the beach. Her love of art led her to the Byam Shaw School of Art, followed by the Royal Academy Schools, from which she graduated in 1973.
Back then Ann would quickly create “tiny little paintings with little sable brushes” at odds with the larger works the artist is known for today. These she paints with larger brushes, devoid of any discernible strokes and, of course, with different subject matters. It was a trip to Morocco 25 years ago that took her work on a new trajectory. Captivated by the country and compelled to venture further afield thereafter, she has since collected a rich repertoire of subjects to which she has seamlessly turned her hand.
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